TULSA, Okla. — Healthcare professionals from Oklahoma’s top medical organizations held a virtual news conference on Tuesday afternoon to address the state of the coronavirus pandemic and the questions around hospitals in the area.
Top doctors held the meeting with reporters as new COVID-19 cases average 3,000-per-day and hospitalizations reaching peak numbers ahead of Thanksgiving.
All of the experts made comments in the meeting before beginning to take questions.
To begin, Aaron Wendelboe, Ph.D., epidemiologist and professor at the OU College of Public Health, provided data and said that Oklahoma will likely need to take additional steps to slow the spread of the virus.
Wendelboe says without that additional mitigation, the state could see 2,000 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 by January.
Earlier Tuesday, State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye held media availability in which he said the state is recommending hospitals to use nurses who may have tested positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.
“That seems like the most insane thing,” said Scott Michener, M.D., chief medical officer at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, when asked about the idea of asymptomatic nurses continuing to work.
Michener disputed claims made by Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s daily executive reports that say there have been at least 50 ICU beds available in the state.
“It’s easy to say that you could wheel a bed in a room and the governor thinks we all have beds,” Michener says.
“But what we should be talking about is do you have staffed beds.”
He says that the state had between 20-30 ICU beds available as of Tuesday morning. He says their hospitals consider an “available bed” to be one that is properly staffed by people who could treat a patient in that bed.
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